UNGIS Side Event @ HLPF 2020

Information and Communication Technologies and Digital Transformation for Building Back Better and Accelerating SDG Achievement

Cover image for UNGIS Side Event @ HLPF 2020

“Implementation of the WSIS Action Lines in Covid-19 Response and SDG Decade of Action”

15 July 16:00-17:00 Geneva time (CEST)

A side event hosted by Saudi Arabia with the engagement of the UN Group on the Information Society (UNGIS)

The Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the vital role of ICTs in responding to crisis --- in enabling governments to maintain critical functions and operations, enabling and sustaining delivery of essential services, ensuring flow of reliable information, enabling business continuity across sectors (not least through remote work, telemedicine, e-education), and maintain social connectedness and cohesion. As countries and communities continue to respond to the pandemic and start to rebuild from its serious impact, digital capacities will be among the critical pillars for quick recovery and for accelerating progress towards 2030.

This session will focus on the strategic ways governments and partners leveraged ICTs during the pandemic, raising key challenges and gaps; and, exploring ways forward for recovery and building back better, identifying digital capacities to prioritize based on needs on the ground, and the synergies necessary to support those.

Although long recognized as catalyst for sustainable development, investments in ICTs and digital capacity building remain uneven across countries. The pandemic has emphasized the urgency to redouble efforts, given the enormous impact wrought on societies and economies and given the need to accelerate progress towards 2030, just 10 years away.

The 2030 Agenda acknowledges that “the spread of information and communication technology and global interconnectedness has great potential to accelerate human progress, to bridge the digital divide and to develop knowledge societies, as does scientific and technological innovation across areas as diverse as medicine and energy”. Bridging the digital gap and connecting the unconnected remain a serious challenge.

After almost 15 years of engagement from all WSIS stakeholders, the WSIS Forum remains the leading global platform for multi-stakeholder collaboration to make ICTs a critical driver of global development, and this session is one of its contributions to the HLPF process.

The year 2020 marks the 15-year milestone for WSIS and the implementation of the 11 Action Lines moderated/facilitated by UN agencies. This side event will also discuss opportunities to link more closely the implementation of the WSIS Action Lines to the Decade of Action, focus on how to leverage existing mechanisms to ensure transformative pathways for achieving the 2030 Agenda, as per the theme of the HLPF 2020.

  • H.E. Dr. Mohammed Altamimi Governor, Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC), Saudi Arabia
  • Mr Malcolm Johnson, Deputy Secretary-General, ITU
  • Ms. Shamika N. Sirimanne, Director, Division on Technology and Logistics, UNCTAD
  • Mr. Guilherme Canela, Chief, Section of Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists, Communication and Information Sector, UNESCO
  • Ms Aarti Holla-Maini Secretary-General, EMEA Satellite Operators Association (ESOA)
  • Mr Michael Hodin, PhD, CEO, Global Coalition on Aging, Managing Partner, High Lantern Group
  • Prof Francoise Grey, Director, University of Geneva and Tsinghua University Initiative.

Moderated by:

  • Mr Mansour S. AlQurashi, General Manager for International Affairs at CITC and Saudi Arabia Councilor, ITU
  • Ms Gitanjali Sah, Strategy and Policy Coordinator (WSIS), ITU

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